Long overdue legal action against venues that do not comply with equality of access to services for deaf and hard of hearing people appears gathering momentum in the United States. First it was Starbucks and now Bow Tie Cinemas are being taken to court for not complying with Americans with Disabilities Act.
Now, obviously, Ampetronic has a commercial interest in ‘assistive listening technology’, and therefor the legislation that dictates its use, so we’re not best placed to comment or moralise about the lack of enforcement.
That said, we do have regular contact with the users of our products, so we know what a tremendous difference a good assistive listening or closed captioning system can make to people’s daily enjoyment and engagement with life, and having watched people reduced to tears when they first encounter a good hearing loop system it’s hard not to become personally invested in promoting the technology.
It’s a shame that the Government doesn’t have stronger measures in place to enforce anti-discrimination legislation for deaf and hard of hearing people. This is, sadly, particularly true in the United Kingdom, where legal action is rare, so service providers often offer a ‘tick box’ (yes, we’ve got one) approach to compliance with many considering cost more important than whether systems are actually working and providing a genuine benefit.
What is happening in America is, I believe, a promising start. If deaf and hard of hearing groups are taking action on their own behalf, then I for one applaud that. It should have a knock on effect that will ensure that service providers not only provide equipment and systems, but they will also work.
The U.K. and other countries (which are currently not generally as litigious a culture as the U.S.), may not benefit directly, but hopefully the corporate ethos that it will bread will trickle down to company’s across the world – just like other areas continual improvement to customer services.
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More information about the Starbucks case is here: http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/268380/group/homepage/
More information about the Bow Tie Cinemas case is here: http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/article/20130730/NEWS01/130739985/deaf-advocacy-group-sues-theater-chain
By Alistair Knight
Marketing & Communications Manager